Frustration for the Cork basketball community as league is now on hold

Frustration for the Cork basketball community as league is now on hold

Katie Walsh, Singleton SuperValu Brunell, shoots over Tatum Neubert and Casey Grace, Ambassador UCC Glanmire, in last season's Women's Superleague Basketball tie. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

THE news, just two days ahead of tip-off, that Basketball Ireland had to defer the national leagues was met with widespread disappointment by Cork clubs.

In recent weeks, the message from basketball headquarters was they were intent in getting the leagues up and running, despite the ever-present issues relating to Covid-19.

When UCC Glanmire coach Mark Scannell and his team were notified their season was grounded before it took off, they were shocked and dismayed.

“We are shattered as we have two Americans Shrita Parker and Anna Hayton on our books, but more importantly, the squad had prepared so hard and this is a blow we could have done without.”

Although the statement from Basketball Ireland didn’t give a date for a resumption, it’s clear there will be no basketball at this level until the country drops to level 2. That won’t happen any time soon.

Scannell made some notable signings by bringing in former Glanmire star Claire Rockall and Claire Melia were favourites to regain the title.

“Everything was going to plan and I can see the players are devastated, but we are still allowed to train and, hopefully, the good days will return to our society sooner than later.”

The NBA play-offs were recently completed in Florida, but that was in a ‘bubble’ environment.

Basketball on these shores had been deemed an elite sport initially, but without consistent testing, clubs were always going to struggle to get games played without numerous cancellations.

The postponement of the women’s league was also met with frustration by the Singleton’s SuperValu coach Tim O’Halloran.

“It’s hard to comprehend at this late stage, but I suppose figures are high and the welfare of players must always be a priority.”

The Brunell boss was bullish as his side had a rigid pre-season and his players were determined to improve on last year’s league standing.

“We have a young side with two good Americans in Aryn McClure and Alexa Middleton and there was great camaraderie in the squad, but right now it’s hard to know what the future holds for all sports with this dreaded virus.”

In the Men’s Super League, Tradehouse Central Ballincollig’s game against Tralee Warriors was already cancelled after one of their players had tested positive. Neptune were also dealing with a report of close contact with one of their U20 players.

That sums up the problems that teams would have encountered on a regular basis if the leagues did get up and running.

Basketball Ireland CEO Bernard O’Byrne said: “We had hoped for our season to start this weekend, but we’ve been aware all along that the Covid-19 situation is so fluid and adjustments were likely. 

"Naturally Basketball Ireland has been working on a variety of alternative plans for the season, should there be an interruption. For example, we have looked at the possibility of a January start to the National League season, along with playing out a condensed Super League season in four venues, among other things. 

“We are constantly assessing contingency plans and will be working with Sport Ireland and our clubs when it comes to a return to action. Naturally the welfare of those in the basketball community and beyond is of the utmost importance and any resumption will be done with everyone’s health and wellbeing being at the forefront of our decision-making.”

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